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Oil ministers unite against price volatility

For the first time in history, energy ministers from 66 nations — both oil producers and consumers — have adopted a declaration aimed at mitigating volatility in oil prices.

business Updated: Apr 01, 2010 21:12 IST
Anupama Airy

For the first time in history, energy ministers from 66 nations — both oil producers and consumers — have adopted a declaration aimed at mitigating volatility in oil prices.

Coming at the end of the two-day 12th International Energy Forum (IEF) — the world’s largest energy meet — the declaration seems to have taken note of India’s concerns against speculative trading in oil.

“Energy markets should be as transparent as possible to enable their efficient and effective operation, and timely and improved market related data should facilitate better understanding of market price behaviour and appropriate regulatory responses,” said the joint declaration.

New Delhi has been highlighting the role of speculators in oil trade since 2006, saying paper transactions rather than actual supplies changing hands were behind the surge in crude oil prices. Petroleum Minister Murli Deora and the then Petroleum Secretary MS Srinivasan had even faced ridicule at global energy meets where they raised the issue.

The world acknowledged the role of speculators only in 2008 when oil prices fell from a record high of $147.27 a barrel in July to $32.40 per barrel in December. Since then the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has taken up the cause of seeking curbs on speculators while the US has moved to curb speculative paper trades.

The 12th IEF recognised the need to regulate the markets but stopped short of prescribing any measure.

Deora said India had forcefully raised the issue in the Jeddah and London meetings of IEF in 2008, and now “they are addressing the issue of price volatility.”

“More collaborative effort on the part of producers and consumers has been stressed,” Oil Secretary S Sundareshan said.

“They now have a ‘common goal of not having extreme volatility in prices.’

“Today’s energy issues cannot be resolved unilaterally; they demand global cooperation and a willingness to engage in open dialogue,” the declaration said.

The correspondent’s travel, boarding and lodging was provided by ONGC Videsh Ltd.